Colombo, Sep 27: The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday condemned the conduct of a group of Buddhist monks who mobbed a UN-run safe house for Rohingya Muslims, claiming that they were terrorists and should be sent back to Myanmar.
Dozens of protesters from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist community led a mob that entered a multi-storied house on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital yesterday following which about 30 Rohingya Muslims were taken into police custody to be moved to a safe location.
Sri Lankan government spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne slammed the conduct of the monks and the police over the harassment of Rohingya refugees lodged here.
"This behaviour was most disrespectful of Buddhism," Senaratne said, adding that police behaviour also needs to be questioned as they allowed the monks to threaten the refugees.
A spokesman from the nationalist group Sihala Ravaya' yesterday said they had raided a house in the Colombo south suburb of Dehiwela.
"There were 32 of them, their children are even attending school here," he said.
Senaratne said that Rohingya refugees have been in Sri Lanka since 2008 and yet monks were protesting only now. The mob led by the monks had called for their eviction. Officials said the group which included 16 children had been allowed to remain under the aegis of UN pending repatriation. The UNHRC Colombo office said they were alarmed and concerned.
"UNHCR urges the public and all those concerned with refugees to continue extending protection and to show empathy for civilians fleeing persecution and violence," it said in a statement.
More than 436,000 refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25 when a military crackdown was launched following attacks on security forces allegedly by Rohingya militants.